Man transforms school bus he bought from Craigslist for $1000 into cozy Airbnb, see the inside

A man’s urge to do a fun project led to creating a tiny house out of a school bus called “skoolie,” and eventually quit his 9 to 5.

Will Sutherland had been a homeowner for a few years. After completing several home improvements and repairs, he felt the urge to take on something new and exciting project.

He was an audio-visual technician at the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races for 11 years.

One day while looking at Craigslist and thinking about getting a nice car or something for a cool project, a school bus popped on the screen.

Outside view of skoolie at day time.

“Maybe I could make some type of tiny house or camper out of it,” he thought after his initial exposure to the concept of a skoolie.

Only a few buses were available for purchase online at the time, but he said he is quite mechanically inclined, so he took a chance on the listing.

He traveled two hours from his place in West Virginia to Maryland to acquire the school bus.

Will acquired the school bus for $1,000 and drove it home. He said that was his first time driving a school bus with a top speed of 55 miles an hour.

Nice vew of skoolie outside at night.

He started renovating the bus in the summer of 2014.

“There wasn’t a lot to inspire my design because skoolies weren’t big yet, but I thought I could figure something out from what I saw.”

Will began by removing the seats, which according to him, was one of the most challenging tasks of his project.

“Once you finish removing the seats from your bus, pat yourself on the back. That’s a rite of passage right there.”

After removing the seats, he put in the wood stove, a table, and bed framing.

He finished the renovation all by himself by October.

The bed, sofa and wood stove inside the skoolie.

Will said that with the renovations, he took the bus to a Halloween party a few miles from his place, and people loved it. “So I realized I’d done something neat,” he said.

According to Will, his friend suggested he list the bus on Airbnb, which was new to him then.

He immediately booked it for $40 a night after putting it on Airbnb.

His skoolie does not have a bathroom, so for six and a half years, he shared the bathroom inside his home with his guests.

Will built a nice bathhouse outside the skoolie at the back of his house.

He was single and was at work almost all day, so sharing his bathroom with his guests was not a big deal. After all, it led him to gain several lifelong friends from all over the world.

Then, he met his wife, Sabrina. “I know it’s awkward, but I need the income,” he said.

Sabrina was patient and put up with the noise and activity of the house, including the constant use of the bathroom located just next to their bedroom. Will said that having so much faith in other people was a unique experience.

Air conditioning unit inside the skoolie.

Will put real work into upgrading the tiny house over the years.

He added a 40-amp electricity and upgraded the heating system.

He also upgraded the bed from a double to a queen-size bed, improved the flooring, added a mini fridge, put on privacy curtains, and a porch.

He kept the wood stove, though. Will said many of his guests love splitting wood and bringing it inside the bus to start a fire.

Will’s skoolie was listed to accommodate three guests, so he usually gets couples.

Skoolie's warm bed.

Some couples bring kids, so he added a sofa where a kid can sleep. “Most kids are so excited to stay in such a unique space,” he said.

He also allowed guests to set up a tent outside on the grass and made it dog friendly to make it appealing to many people.

Will said he spent $2,500 to buy and renovate the bus and earned $4,500-$5,000 for the first full year of listing his skoolie on Airbnb.

Skoolie's cozy sofa beside the bed.

He also said that the bus helped him with his expenses and paid off his debts, including his student loans.

By the spring of 2015, he increased the price to $59 after getting ten great reviews and kept the price for years.

He eventually needed to increase the price as the demand rises; he was trying to cut back on how many guests the bus got.

“I was coming home nearly every day on my lunch break to clean for the next guest. I knew that I was eventually going to get caught doing that,” he said.

Nice porch outside the tiny house with chairs and a barbeque grill.

After charging a little more, his regulars shifted from mainly being college kids who occasionally threw parties to people of a similar age as his and his wife’s age.

The bus now costs about $89 per night, though it varies with the seasons as he uses Airbnb’s auto pricing, so the price also changes according to demand.

“I’ll see that someone is paying $120 a night for the bus. May and September have pretty routinely been solid months for income. October, November, January, and February are pretty slow.”

Will also build a tree house and put it on Airbnb, too.

Last year, he earned $50,000 from the skoolie and the tree house. His bus made roughly $18,000 to $20,000, and the treehouse made at least $30,000.

Tiny house's dining area and kitchen with sink.

“I’m on track to get almost the exact same income this year,” Will said.

Will has quit his job since he is earning enough from Airbnb.

He said he now has more time to help friends and family with projects, think about new things he wants to make, and see them come to fruition faster than he used to with his 9 to 5.

“It does take a lot of time to maintain my property to get good reviews. People complain about very insignificant things, like how ‘the grass was slightly long.’ In some ways, it helped me identify what I can do to be a better host.

He said he wants to provide his guests with the best possible experience, and half of it is what he does as the host, like how he interacts with them and things that can make them feel cared for.

Wood stove inside the tiny house.

Will told Insider he wants to renovate more school buses.

He built a skoolie for him and his wife to travel in. They are also looking for short buses that they can buy and renovate.

“My plan is to gut and insulate buses by adding new floors and decks for solar power, which would cost around $10,000, and then I would sell it for about $15,000. I think that would add about $30,000 or $40,000 a year to my income.”

He said he wants to keep things in check while being a good host and enjoys working on his projects simultaneously.

Airbnb's letter to Will, thanking him for being an amazing host.

He always starts the day by helping someone, doing things for himself, his property, and his family while doing something fun and productive.

“Every day, I try to check each of these boxes off. That’s where the real wealth is in my life.”

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